Monday, August 13, 2012

I don't know if I ever talked about our experiences with pediatricians after our homebirth. My midwife suggested I make an appt. with a pediatrician a week or so after Hazel was born. My midwife performed the newborn screening, and checked up on us throughout the first week, so it would have been redundant to have her seen during that time. She mentioned vaccinations, tests, and screenings that are normally done in the hospital before a baby is released, which we might want to consider. A friend recommended a Ped, in Kamas, so we figured why not? He was after all the closest Ped. to us, and our friend liked him for her home-birthed children. His nurses were ignorant, and rough with Hazel which was shocking after our experience with our gentle midwives. They paid no attention to her cries, and carelessly placed her tiny naked body on a freezing cold scale to weigh her,nd they misread her weight 3 times. They used a rectal thermometer to take her temperature after the one they were using on her foot gave a low reading (her foot, really? The farthest hing from her heart, and the coldest appendage on her body?) It was obvious that they didn't have much experience with newborns. They were utterly baffled by our homebirth, and asked us if it was an accident....The doctor talked to us for 5 minutes. He spouted rehearsed rhetoric about vaccinations and tests, while giving us no real information. He failed to answer any of my questions about the ingredients in the prescriptions he was writing, or which vaccination companies he carried. He then sent us to the hospital (the place we had been avoiding all along) to have the PKU test performed, which he assured us was a simple heel prick, a test that every child receives, which is no big deal.

Here's the thing. When I imagine a "prick" I imagine my diabetic grandmother testing her blood. No big deal. well the PKU is NOT a prick. It is a pretty good poke, followed by six minutes of some lurchy looking nurse with buggy eyes squeezing my innocent, newborn babies leg as hard as she can, and milking the blood from her calf down to her heel, all while my baby screams in pain and terror. You think I am being dramatic? Imaging being a newborn who hasn't experienced anything but the peaceful, warmth and darkness of the womb, and the recent difficult and undoubtedly scary trip through the birth canal. Everything is new and different, except your mother, and to a lesser degree your father. How would you feel if you were that newborn. I think people have a complete disregard for the emotional well-being of newborns. They just assume that since these little beings can't talk, that they can't think, and dont have feelings, and that they are unaware, for example, of the lack of their mother's presence while they are in the nursery. That is bogus. those babies are alone, they know it, and they are scared shitless. Let's not even go into the barbaric practice of circumcision, the completely unnecessary, and contraindicated practice of cutting of part of a male infants most sensitive body part using little to no anesthesia. If you are going to tell me that this is no big deal, that they hardly feel it, or that they don't remember it I urge you to watch this video of the actual procedure being done, and then tell me that it doesn't constitute human torture. Then tell me you didn't cry. That you weren't disgusted. If you think that cosmetic reasons are good enough justification for torture........I have nothing to say to you. (actually I do, but I will restrain myself)

Regardless, back to the PKU. If I were a newborn I would be terrified. The shittiest part? The PKU can be performed using urine samples. They don't tell you that because its quicker to get a babies blood right after birth, than to wait for them to begin nursing, and metabolizing, and producing enough urine to fill a diaper enough to use for the test. Instead they want to poke and prodd your baby because your baby is defenseless, and so they can. They prefer to do this when you aren't around to witness it, because "it often makes parents uncomfortable". If by 'uncomfortable' you mean it makes me want to call you a lying bitch and tell you to get the F*$& away from my baby and quit making her bleed, then yeah. It made me uncomfortable. In fact, it was my first big parenting fail. Handing my baby over to doctors and allowing them to hurt her for no good reason. Those tests were pointless. They never even called us to talk about the results.

Looking back, I was just uninformed. I had planned so well for labor and birth, but hadn't thought at all about what comes next. In my mind our visits, which have dwindled, were a complete waste of time. When I have another child there will be no PKU, no circumcision if it is a boy, no hearing test. So long as my midwife is confident that there are no signs of any complications following the newborn screening done in-house immediately after birth, I see absolutely no reason for my child to see a doctor. A year ago I would have thought that was extreme. Now I think doctors can be extreme. Now I worry that a majority of what goes on in a doctors office is in order to avoid malpractice, and is in the best interest of the doc, not the patient.

I certainly do think there is a time and a place for pediatricians. When Hazel is sick, the first thing I think of is taking her to the doctor. I am completely aware of the fact that these tests have indicated diseases and abnormalities in children, which may have otherwise gone unnoticed, sometimes until it is too late. I know that check-ups sometimes reveal complications. I have read a number of books on vaccination. I'm not uninformed, and I am often wonder about my choices concerning Hazel's healthcare (or lack thereof). I am extremely proactive though. I do a lot of research. I know where she should be developmentally and physically. I make sure that she is getting everything she needs. I try to feed her a variety of nutrient rich-foods. I keep her away from large groups of children who may be spreading viruses or bacteria because she is currently not vaccinated.

Im not really sure what the point of this post is, but I was thinking through that trip to the pediatricians office, and the hospital today. And the subsequent visits, which have been more and more disappointing. Maybe someday I will take her in for a checkup and they will find something. something wont be right. But maybe not. Maybe she will be completely healthy and normal at every check up and I will just feel the visits becoming more and more pointless.... who knows.

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